Texas-El Paso (13-9) at Houston (14-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 13, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hofheinz Pavilion (8,500) -- Houston, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: UTEP 11-2, Houston 10-4. Away Record: UTEP 2-4, Houston 4-4. Neutral Record: UTEP 0-3, Houston 0-0. Conference Record: UTEP 6-3, Houston 3-6. Series Record: UTEP leads, 14-9.
GAME NOTES: The Houston Cougars close out a two-game homestand on Wednesday night when they welcome the Texas-El Paso Miners to Hofheinz Pavilion for a Conference USA showdown.
UTEP came into its recent clash with Tulsa as one of the hottest teams in the conference, winning four of five, but it suffered a tough 74-70 home loss to the Golden Hurricane to close out its three-game homestand. The Miners are still in the midst of a solid season at 13-9 overall and 6-3 in conference.
Houston actually boasts a better overall record than UTEP (14-8), but it has struggled in league action as it has claimed victory in just three of nine conference bouts. The Cougars are losers of six of their last eight, most recently dropping a home game against Tulane on Saturday, 88-85, to fall to 10-4 at home.
UTEP has defeated Houston in four of the last five meetings, taking a 14-9 advantage in the all-time series. However, the Cougars are 6-2 versus the Miners at Hofheinz Pavilion.
UTEP found itself down by 10 points to Tulsa in the second half on Saturday before ripping off a 16-5 run to take a 51-50 lead with under 10 minutes to play, but it could not hold on to that advantage down the stretch as it was saddled with the four-point loss. The Miners were able to keep the game close by putting forth a solid 22-of-29 showing from the foul line, but they did not help themselves much from the floor, shooting just 20-of-54 (.370). Konner Tucker (17 points) and Jacques Streeter (11 points) each drained three 3- pointers, while McKenzie Moore was strong off the bench with 14 points. Julian Washburn chipped in 10 points, and Cedrick Lang grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds. On the season, UTEP's offense has been modest at best (.449 FG percentage, 64.1 ppg), but its great defensive effort (61.4 ppg) has ensured its winning record. Washburn puts up a team-best 12.0 ppg, while Tucker (11.9 ppg) has been outstanding from 3-point range (36-of-77, .468). John Bohannon mans the paint with 10.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg and 1.5 bpg, while Streeter (9.7 ppg) has an outstanding 114-to-36 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Houston has C-USA's most potent offense, scoring 77.2 ppg on nearly 46 percent shooting from the field, and that trend continued over the weekend as it shot 27-of-56 from the floor (.482) and 23-of-31 from the foul line (.742) on its way to 85 points. However, after leading big for most of the game, including by 13 with just over four minutes to play, the Cougars allowed Tulane to end the game on a 22-9 run as they were ultimately handed the heartbreaking three- point loss. Joseph Young led they way with 26 points, thanks in part to 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc, and TaShawn Thomas added 20 points and eight rebounds. Danuel House and J.J. Thompson each scored 10 points, with House tallying eight rebounds, six assists, three blocks and three steals as well. Young has been an outstanding scorer all season, pouring in 17.2 ppg with great percentages from the floor (.464), 3-point range (.423), and the foul line (.900). Thomas is one of the league's best big men, posting 15.9 ppg, 9.6 rpg and 1.9 bpg, while House brings 12.7 ppg and 5.4 rpg to the table.
Something has to give in this battle between UTEP's stingy defense and Houston's high-powered offense. Despite the Miners' impressive run of late, they are just 2-4 away from El Paso, which gives the Cougars the edge.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Houston 70, Texas-El Paso 68
02/13 10:34:47 ET